Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    LHASA TO KATHMANDU RIDE

    A great trip but for those reading this be clear that you do not ride the whole way from Lhasa to Kathmandu. That said, our leader made all the right calls. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The great group I enjoyed this trip with and our excellent leader Khumar and his support Ajay and Phunsak. This is another wonderful part of our world and is a must for all those who like a challenge on a bike!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    What more can I say? He wasn't the Exodus New Leader of the Year for nothing in 2010! Thanks Khumar.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the accommodation is very basic so you need to be prepared for that and you need to like/get used to the local food which can lack a bit of variety. Our leader handled the problems of altitude sickness with great care and kept everyone riding even if after some time out. Go with his advice at all times and you will be the better for it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The cycling is challenging but manageable if you are fit, if not you hop on board the bus when needed. From the city of Lhasa which was surprisingly good to the high plateaus of Tibet passing much local life on the way to the fabulous descent into Nepal and the back to the reality of an underdeveloped road system in Nepal this is an excellent trip. Go for it!
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA AND PANAMA

    Quite possibly one of the best trips I've ever been on! Due to a combination of a fantastic group, amazing guides, superb scenery, beautiful, friendly people en route and a feeling of really pushing myself!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    First and foremost being able to complete far more of the trip than I thought possible! Let me be the source of reassurance to those of you who don't know if your fitness level is up to scratch... I do no exercise. In fact I positively loathe exercise but my friend and I booked this trip on purpose to make us attempt to get fit. Even though we booked 10 months in advance I then got myself a job in Costa Rica and so only actually got to start "training" for the 5 weeks before the trip. I never got more than 10 miles in any of my practise rides. Yet I still completed 207 and fo the 350 miles, even though I was last almost every day and by some way, and could have completed more had it not been for the rum and cokes of an evening and the fact that sitting on the party bus chatting to Luis was so much fun!Yes this is a cycling holiday but for me the emphasis was on "holiday" so why was I going to kill myself? If you're more of a serious rider you may feel you want more miles per day. In fact some days have optional extra rides for that reason but for me this trip had the perfect combination of cycling and time off.Other than that...well Granada in Nicaragua is stunning, sunsets on Ometepe island unrivalled, playing cards for 5 hours at the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border without anyone getting fed up, the thermal springs at Arenal volcano, dancing the nights away in Cahuita and Bocas, having children along the road waving and shouting hi, the dodgy border crossing into Panama, abundant wildlife and, surprisingly, the Panama Canal that turned out to be fascinating!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rob was a fantastic leader. He seems so laid back yet everything was so well organised and even when things out of his control went wrong (like a 5 hour border crossing from Nicaragua to Costa Rica), he didn't flinch and his calm nature kept everyone else calm. This is Latin America after all and Rob certianly goes with the flow and it rubs off!He was fantastic when 3 of us missed our connection at Houston and then didn't get our luggage until Day 4. He and the group rallied around to lend us clothes, shoes, helmets, saddles, toiletries etc which took all the stress out of it. Nothing was too much trouble for him. Other group members who have done several Exodus holidays said he was by far the best guide they'd had on any other trip.His fellow guides were just fantastic too. Luis the driver kept the party bus going and makes a great dance partner. Always willing to stop more frequently along route if you need a break from cycling and always willing to beep you as he passes to encourage you to keep going. Quite how he keeps his eyes on the road yet spots wildlife left, right and centre, stopping the bus for photo opportunities is beyond me.Paul and Alfonso I spent most time with being as I came in last almost every day. They literally pushed me up some of the hills but were also extremely encouraging when I wanted to push myself. They were incredibly fit and made sure everyone was looked after but always returned to the back to make sure we made it. I think they probably completed each stage twice. Also great dance partners and always up for a party. Fortunately I speak Spanish and so spent a lot of time with them but their English is very limited although Alfonso can speak more than he lets on, so either go all out on the sign language or learn some key phrases before you come out. "Get me on that bus", "Are we nearly there yet" and "time for a beer" are useful starters for 10.On a serious note all 4 of them are a true credit to their company and deserve all the good feedback they've got.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    - Don't worry about your fitness level! You can always get on the bus, the boys will always help you along and wait for you, and no one will be annoyed you're slower. In fact on several ocassions by the time I'd got to the rest point the quicker ones had been there half an hour and already left. If you're too far behind they'll gently suggest you get on the bus but even I didn't need to do that. I knew my limits!- Take more money than you think you'll need but all in dollars is fine. I found the meals to be much more expensive than I know food can be bought for in Central America. The first clue is in the price of the holiday I guess but for me this was way out of my budget and my only suggestion would be that Rob recommends some eating places that cater for all budgets. Fortunately not all lunches and dinners were taken as a group and I was able to get us to cheaper, more authentic places. We got on so well as a group that even on non-group meal days we still all stuck together!- Padded cycling shorts!! Having borrowed them when I had no luggage for 4 days I didn't give them back - a godsend!- An iPod as you can put your music on in the bus for the longer transfers. As much as we loved the salsa, merengue and tropical beats the boys put on, there are just some days you need the whole bus singing along to 80s power ballads...- Some kind of day sack or cycling top with pockets. I missed out on many photo opportunities on route due to not being able to carry my camera on the bike with me. Make sure there's a waterproof cover for it though. A ziplock bag works well.- A Spanish phrasebook if you don't speak it. I can't stress enough how many doors a few words of Spanish opens and how much it will enrich your experience- Spare underwear, a change of clothes and some smaller than 100ml toiletries in case your luggage gets lost!- Patience and a good sense of humour.... manana manana is not just a saying, it's a way of life and not everything goes to plan but it doesn't need to stress you out if you don't expect everything to go to plan.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In the words of Nike - JUST DO IT!You will regret it if you don't. Even cycling in torrential tropical rain, downhill, not being able to see a thing, drenched to the bones is an experience everyone should have. This isn't just about cycling and pushing yourself but about seeing an area of the world that is spectacular in terms of scenery, culture, friendliness of people, flora, fauna and just having a darn good time. You'll make great friends and I defy anyone not to fall in love with the area. I'm flying back in 2 weeks' time... not to get on a bike I hasten to add... but I would definitely do this trip again! :)
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    PANDAS & WARRIORS FAMILY HOLIDAY

    The itinerary was fantastic. China is a big country and the travel can be a bit hectic at times. Most of the locations were generally well chosen. The Shaolin temple was distasteful and tacky. It was nothing like what we had imagined and an overnight train journey to see it ,seemed so unecessary in the end.Totally avoidable and Exodus should probably remove it from the itinerary/replace it. Yangshuo was the absolute highlight. What a beautiful place! The Panda Reserve at Chengdu was another disappointment, but something unavoidable ,as the children do look forward to it.Hong-kong was quite a 'sterile' place generally except for the giant Buddha on Lantau Island.Immigration into Hong-kong was a nightmare and very stressful.Michael,our guide was absolutely great,very helpful,sociable and generally very friendly.The children enjoyed each other's company and had a great time together.  We saw most of the highlights of China and it was a great educational experience for the children. They made lots of new friends as did the adults.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to choose from!! Yangshuo stands out.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Michael, our Group Leader,was fantastic. He was very cheerful, helpful and kept the group together very well.It was a challenging job which he carried out admirably.The kids liked him and he made our trip easier than it would have been.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it. Great tour. Haggle and shop in Xian and Yangshuo.Visit Lantau island in HongKong and avoid Stanley market.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic tour. Would recommend to families with small children and teenagers (Our son was 7 yrs old and enjoyed it immensely).
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    CYCLE INDOCHINA & ANGKOR

    The Cambodia part was great, the Vietnam part really nice too, however the first few days in Thailand (300km or so) was just tiring and a bit uninspiring with little to see - high mileage when everyone was jet lagged and short of sleep. The Mekong delta in Vietnam was lovely although some of the roads were really quite busy and it felt a bit too rushed at times with too few opportunities to take photos. More time in Cambodia and Vietnam to replace the days in Thailand would have suited me, plus more quiet backroads and tracks. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The temples at Angkor, the sunset on Tonle Sap, the homestay / guest house on the Mekong and the friendly local people everywhere.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good fun and well organised but could have been more aware of health and safety issues and less dismissive of customer concerns.  

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get bike fit - although it is very flat, the roads can be a bit rough and it is hot and humid! Don't go if you want to have a relaxing holiday. Most of it is quite early starts and some days are quite hard work.    

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I get a bit tired of the whole tips things. On this trip we tipped staff in three countries. To give an example, $40 to $50 was suggested by Exodus for the main tour leader. While not a lot as an individual, for the 17 people on our trip that was $680 to $850 for 2 weeks. Is that a tip or are we paying a big part of the guy's wages? A hidden charge I would suggest Exodus.     
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    CAPE TOWN TO VICTORIA FALLS

    The itinerary was the major reason for choosing this holiday.  It fulfilled all of our expectations but the vehicle, although kept clean and well driven, was poor in terms of comfort and visibility compared with vehicles used by other adventure companies with whom we have travelled.  Travelling times indicated in the itinerary were rather optimistic!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Everyone should be aware that they are expected to assist with domestic chores e.g. preparation of lunch etc.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My comments are intended to offer constructive criticism and if published should be used in full without selective editing.
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF MOROCCO

    Except for the weather, which unfortunately was incontrollable, it was a very interesting trip, we did and we saw a lot of things without any rush.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Essaouira, hiking in the mountains, sleeping in the desert under the stars

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was great.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you go during November take warm clothes and your sleeping bag with you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would have liked to spend one more day in Fes.
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    HIGH PASSES OF EVEREST

    An awe inspiring trip that delivered amazing views, outstanding guides and physical challenges that took every last ounce of determination.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the Kong Ma La pass the feeling of sheer exhilaration was fab! Seeing the sunset over everest and then popping to the local bakery for hot chocolate and cake, superb!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pasang and his team were amazing, for one so young he had maturity and experience well beyond his years and assisted the group at every step of the way both physically and mentally supporting the group when moral occasionally dropped. The porters and assistant guides were always happy and smiling and willing to go the extra mile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Anti bac hand wash religiously before and after EVERYTHING!!! I'm a meat eater but staying clear of any meat based food from Namche Bazarr upwards def saved me and many of my group from getting too dodgy a belly the noodles, rice and soup provided a good source of energy food with the occasional treat of egg and chips!The sleeping bag I hired from Exodus was clean and warm but absolutely massive and needed to be carried seperately from my bag as barely fitted in the exodus kit bag on its own let alone with the rest of my kit in it. This meant that although the porters were very accomodating about carrying it, sometimes it got a little damp and grubby en route if the weather was wet and snowy (which it frequently was)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was an amazing but pretty challenging trip, I trained a fair bit before going to make sure I was at a good fitness level but nothing really prepares you for the altitude. I had been trekking and climbing at altitude several times before with no ill effect but this time at about 4500m I got hit hard by the altitude for a few days, but think making sure you have a very good fitness level prior to departure is a must!
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    SLOVENIA: JULIAN ALPS TRAVERSE

    Love the high alpine traversing.  The guides were fantastic.  The scenery was breathtaking.  The trails were not crowded.  The high alpine lakes were gorgeous.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I felt a great sense of achievement when we reached the summit of Triglav.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both group leaders were great.  They went above and beyond what they were required to do.  They also hired a third guide for summit day.  The guides really enhanced our enjoyment of the entire journey.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Realize the accomodations are bunk / dorm.  You can ask for an upgrade and pay some additional $$ at some of the lodges if you need a good night's sleep.  The food at the huts was basic and bland.  There were few vegetarian options.  Stay a few days in Lubjiana either at the beginning or the end of the trip.  It is a great place to explore and you don't get to see it during this trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Not for beginner or unfit hikers!  There are lots of steep drop offs, and not just on summit day.  A good sense of balance with your day pack on your back is required.  Also, be prepared for the weather to change quickly at altitude...........and there is no shelter on those high altitude trails.  But the scenic rewards are worth it!
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    RIO TO BUENOS AIRES

    Lots of super things to see. However there was too much travelling as percentage of the time away.We suggest extending the length of the holiday and the time spent at each place

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing swifts flying into the Iguazu waterfalls to their nests behindThe sheer scale and beauty of Christ the RedeemerFirst sighting of hyacinth macawsFloating down the river at Bonito and coming eyeball to eyeball with a Caiman!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ezekiel was extremely enthusiastic, and went to enormous lengths to help us make the most of the holiday.However, we felt he had not quite had the experience of the trip to be able to give us the best advice on options.(he was not the guide we expected from the reviews or from staff we spoke to before departure)For instance the trip to Itaipu dam was very disappointing, and added ~4 hours in a bus the nearly 20 hours on the overnight bus andtransfer bus that followed. We would have been much better staying at the Falls for a leisurely afternoon.Also the only real shopping opportunity was in the market at Buenes Aires which he rushed us through without chance to buy any souvenirs. It would have been helpful to know this was the best market even so early in the trip.Finally we were split into 2 groups for the overnight bus trip by the Bus company.  Eze coped very well with this but didn't quite get the timings right so we were a little unsure where to get off. (not helped by it being 4am!)Overall though a charming and hard working and kind young man.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Expect a lot of travelling, on buses and planes. Very little chance for any excercise.Don't do the Itaipu dam trip, stay at the Iguazu Falls which are stunning and deserve more timeExpect it to be very hot (40 C) in the Pantanal and Bonito at this time  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The guide at the Brazilian side of Iguazu was totally uninterested in us. Going through the motionsThe guide in Paraty was excellentThe boat trip in Paraty was disappointing. It went only a very short distance and one can only swim for so long.( although the food was excellent)We nearly missed the flight home due to taking 2 hours to travel 10 miles in the Rio rush hour. Strongly suggest more time allowed as it was a VERY close callWe suggest you consider extending the trip to allow more time in each place, to minimise the impact of the travelling. Also there were some good looking walking places en route especially in Paraty, which could be offered.
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    CUBA: LA ISLA GRANDE

    Cuba - interesting, even fascinating - but food lovers beware!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved the snorkelling on the optional catamaran trip. Never before eaten lunch on a desert island eyed up by iguanas and tree rats! La Habana Vieja is wonderful: stunning architecture. But note: the past 50 years or so have seen a wholesale (presumably unintended) programme  of converting grand palaces to miserable hovels. The UNESCO-sponsored refurbishment is restoring many of these magnificent buildings to their former glory, but there remains much to do. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    George was great - tireless in his efforts to organise the local services, and largely successful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely take snacks - food for tourists is plentiful (I suspect the locals would be aghast to see how much is provided), but very, very bland, and a very narrow range of choices as a rule. But lobster (where available) can be surprisingly inexpensive and properly cooked. Steer clear of the beef - by and large the locals seem to have no idea what to do with it. But I'm a bit of a foodie ... however we ate at a couple of good places in Habana Vieja (Cafe Del Oriente and El Patio - both v good).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All loos are manned by women (usually) demanding money with thinly veiled menaces. And they are quite clear about how much they expect to receive for handing you a very short strip of flimsy toilet paper. No idea whether they work only for tips, or get paid by the establishment, but it gets really irritating. And the loo cublicles are barely high enough for decency, and hardly any have locks - and some open outwards so you can quite easily appear revealed in all your glory to any bystanders.
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